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Comfort in the familiar

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I talked to my Seattle daughter, Elizabeth, Sunday.  It was her fiancé’s birthday, and she’d been asking me for suggestions on what to make for his birthday dinner. They’re both foodies and Elizabeth is a particularly good cook, so the options are pretty much endless. I texted her Sunday afternoon to see what she had decided on. She laughed, “I am making homemade mac & cheese and eggplant Parmesan. Andrew wanted comfort food.”

Comfort food. I love it. What we call comfort food depends, in large part, on what we grew up eating, but generally I think of it as food that’s simple and easy but most importantly, familiar.  Comfort food is familiar.  It’s what we think of when we think of home. The familiar is comfortable and safe. And really that’s what we need right now. The landscape is new and different and unfamiliar and scary. These are not the times when we are likely to go out looking for weird food experiences. Now is when we are hunkering down and soothing ourselves with meals that make us feel happy and safe.

It’s same thing in our knitting, of course. At the beginning of the quarantine, many of us imagined that we’d spend this time challenging ourselves—learning something new or taking up a complicated project. I thought so myself. But the fact is, for me anyway, I look to my knitting for solace and comfort. I need the regular, predictable rhythm of a stitch pattern I know and a process I can control.

Additionally, I’ve noted that many of us are knitting afghans and throws or shawls and wraps. We are knitting things that feel comfy and homey‑‑cozy and warm. We are knitting ourselves a hug, because social distancing. We can’t get within 6 feet of each other, let alone give each other a reassuring hug. But we will do what we need to do to stay safe and protect our fellow humans. And as we do, we will comfort ourselves with homey meals, and cozy projects.

At the end of our conversation, Elizabeth cupped her hand over the phone and whispered that she was also surprising Andrew with a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. Because even when we’re looking for comfort, a wonderful little surprise is a happy thing. 

As we stay safe, let’s knit together, be grateful, and create something beautiful.

Back to 31 March 2020 Newsletter